Master of the Craft: Custom Sanctuary Bourbon

Michael Blake
Michael Blake

The Sanctuary Director of Food & Beverage, Michael Blake, was recently invited by the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky to create a custom bourbon blend exclusive to the hotel. Blake took a few moments of his time to explain in his own words how this partnership came to fruition and his approach to creating the custom blend of this esteemed whiskey.

How It All Began

I was contacted by the team at Breakthru Beverage, one of our local distributors. They presented the idea and I was on board immediately. I’ve always wanted to create a barrel or blend for The Sanctuary, and I’ve always been a fan of the Woodford line, so it all worked out perfectly.

Why Woodford?

Woodford as a company, in my opinion, has a great deal of passion, commitment and dedication for the craft of distilling. When you listen to Master Distiller Chris Morris speak about their products, you will immediately feel this isn’t just a job for him, it’s a way of life.

The Process and Flavor Profile

I wanted to create a finished product that would represent The Sanctuary and our coastal location. I was looking for a unique flavor profile that had a sense of story behind it. I was blending for a predominate sea-salt caramel flavor. It took awhile, but after some careful blending, the final product hit exactly the notes I was looking for.

Each barrel matures at its own rate, so it takes on a distinct character of its own. So nature played a large role in the final product as well.

Barrel-Aged To Perfection

The selection date was September 18, 2019, which began with three barrel-proof blends. I was given the option to marry multiple combinations and sample until I got the correct balance and flavor profile I had in mind. Once that was done, the blend rested in the barrel for approximately three months.

Where To Savor This Custom Blend

Every bar and restaurant in The Sanctuary serves it. Each bottle is customized with a Sanctuary label plaque and date of blending.